The Brand Identity

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Studio Output is a creative agency based in London. We caught up with Group Creative Director, Dan Moore.

Can you tell us about your background, and your role at Studio Output?

I’m Group Creative Director here at Studio Output with over 15 years’ experience in design, branding and digital (I realised the other day that I designed my first website in 1999!)

I set up Studio Output in 2002 with two friends, following a Fine Art degree and a period at a Nottingham design agency designing anything and everything for the burgeoning local music, retail and restaurant scene there in the late Nineties.

Over the years my role has become more and more managerial and less on the tools, but I do feel like I’ve finally found my way to being a creative director and understanding some of what that means and entails. I enjoy working with, inspiring and challenging people (both staff and clients) and still retain the hunger and simple pleasure of seeing a good job well done that I had when I started in the industry many moons ago.

You’ve recent rebranded Union Hand-Roasted Coffee in East London. How did you approach that project?

By first really getting to know the people and the brand. We discovered that Union is not just about sourcing and small-batch roasting the highest quality coffee, but also helping everyone to prepare the perfect cup every time. This challenges the elitist perception of the industry, recognising the brand’s role as a friendly and welcoming ‘coffee pioneer’ that would live throughout the work.

“We discovered that Union is not just about sourcing and small-batch roasting the highest quality coffee.”

What’s the concept behind the new brand identity you’ve produced?

Union asked us to help develop the brand’s identity. There was a desire to simplify and reduce the visual elements, and ambition to communicate a sense of quality. Union’s blends, single estates and microlots are all recognised as being ‘speciality’ – they won’t sell a coffee unless it scores 84+ on the SCAA sensory scale.

To communicate this, we stripped the logo back to an elegant typographic device, with the ornamental ‘U’ representing the handle of an espresso cup. When contracted to a shorthand mark, this combines with the underline to create an iconic cup & saucer device.

Ensuring continuity, we retained the rich indigo colour of the previous brand identity, but used it more sparingly. A rich copper colour adds distinction to natural kraft packaging, through foil-blocking and a reusable metal clip. Consumer and trade bags are taller and more elegant, featuring only the brand information and story.

An outer ‘crash-tray’ creates on-shelf presence, identifies individual coffees through a colour system and introduces the brand’s more friendly tone of voice. As well as a strength and flavour guide, the tray also displays the ‘cupping score’, giving people a chance to judge a coffee’s quality objectively for the first time.

Can you describe your studio environment?

We took a purple and orange 1990s partitioned horrorshow of an office and ripped everything out. We then bought back elements of the building’s character (we’re in an old piano factory) like the old steel lift doors and brickwork and bought a more organic feel to it with oak flooring and wooden wall panels (which are recycled Victorian floorboards). We then dressed it with examples of our work, prints from artists we collaborate with and the odd splash of bright colour – which is something you see in all our work.

We love the open plan format, the warm feeling the wood generates and the view across Clerkenwell. You get some great sunrises here in the morning and if you stick your head out the window you can see St Paul’s if you’re lucky. It’s also a place with deliberately different areas – there’s benches, different tables and odd areas to pull up a seat or have a chat.

People like the studio, and they feel welcomed and comfortable, which I think is really important. We wanted an environment that felt ‘us’ and felt like a place that clients would want to spend time in. The space is designed in such a way that everyone has sight of each other and are encouraged to discuss and move around – it’s definitely not a quiet reflective place! Ultimately our space should inspire everyone in it and help us do better work. When we commissioned Jackdaw Studio to create our space this is what we wanted and we feel they’ve done us proud and met that brief exactly.

What do you think is key to producing a successful brand identity?

Personally it should be something that’s simple, memorable and gives some clue as to what it represents.

How does your approach differ when working with established clients like BBC or Penguin to a start-up like Bounts?

The approach doesn’t really change to be completely honest, it’s more about how much time is spent on the work and in which areas. Every project requires a high level of client immersion on our part, which is the key to a good working relationship.

With smaller clients it’s much easier to get in front of the key people, whereas with larger ones it’s much harder – however, this is really what makes or breaks a project, so it’s the first and most important thing to get locked down – managing and building relationships is what it’s all about.

“With colour and layout we wanted to create something really contemporary but with a classic feel.”

What’s your involvement with Glug, and what’s the concept behind the brand identity?

Glug is a global network of events for the design and creative community. Based around a series of talks and informal networking, it started on 2007 as a handful of mates talking shop in an East London pub and is now one of the most exciting, credible and well attended creative events around.

The identity developed from sketches we had exploring speech marks as a separate mark, and how we might best represent ‘talking’ which is perhaps the most elemental aspect of Glug.

Through design development speech marks became faces, which became simplified curves, which then worked their way back into type, where the final ‘g’ hints at both an apostrophe and a smile (with the bowl of the lowercase letterform) and takes its form from an alternative cut of Futura by Paul Renner. The modular form of the the ‘g’ then informed the rest of the wordmark.

With colour and layout we wanted to create something really contemporary but with a classic feel, so we tried to balance the Swiss feel of the grids and matter of fact supporting typography with the quirky multi accent palate.

Over the past year we’ve developed the identity much further and have seen it taken into some interesting places by some of the various studios involved in Glug events around the world.

What’s next for Studio Output?

A rebrand for a charity very close to our heart, a game changing copy-led internal communications piece for a global entertainment company and a new website for a company revolutionising office space (amongst other things!).

studio-output.com

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